MURRAY Gowie (Letters, June 23) regrets the decline in flavour of his new potatoes, and that the new Ayrshires are sometimes difficult to peel.

May I offer a solution Mr Gowie? Stop peeling your tatties, I have not peeled a potato, whether for boiling, baking, mashing, frying or soup, for more years than I can remember. Most of the nutrient content of potatoes, especially Vitamin C, lies immediately beneath the skin; as does the flavour. And the skin provides valuable roughage in the diet.

I hope that Mr Gowie does, at least, compost his unwanted tattie skins – so that they can nourish the ground, if not him.

Rose Harvie, Dumbarton.

I AGREE wholeheartedly with Murray Gowie and his disappointment with the quality of Ayrshire potatoes. My father used to tell me the Ayrshire farmers used seaweed to fertilise their potato crop and that's where the flavour came from in the old days. Does anybody know if this theory is correct?

Elizabeth Mueller, Glasgow G12.

I HAVE for some years now realised the Ayrshire tattie problem and have resorted to growing my own.

First, I threw two bags of sand on my Carse of Gowrie garden to give it an identity crisis and make it think it was on the Girvan shore, I then planted Epicure seed potatoes.

What I am now enjoying, this week, tastes much as I remember from my childhood in Wigtownshire.

Ethel Fitzgerald, Longforgan.

Living with the beasts

AFTER 30 years living on Skye, my view of a couple of the things referred to as bêtes noires by R Russell Smith (Letters, June 20) – midges and cleggs – changed drastically from when I first moved, to live surrounded by them.

Walking to the shore below my home and often up onto the dun, gave great pleasure as I saw otters, hares, eagles, larks, eider ducks, voles, indeed all manner of creatures. I felt delighted whenever I saw them, had their company. Especially the moths, owls and snipe in the still nights.

Gnat-bites, tick-bites and clegg-bites? I had thousands of them (was even tested for Lyme Disease but was told I didn't have it), but they are all part of evolution, the normal world, they have their niches as do humans and I learned to thole them. It is actually cruel noisy humans who are my bêtes noires, who often harm or scare away the other quieter creatures. We should learn to be silent and still at times, then otters and other animals would not be afraid to be near to us.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

Character reference

THERE was a hidden bonus in your Those were the days feature on Monday ("Anti-nuclear demonstrators on the march, The Herald, June 22). In the background of the main picture and second from right is Oliver Brown, teacher extraordinary, Francophile and wit.

Oliver, habitual kiltwearer, cycled everywhere from his home in Milngavie, and that’s him in the picture, in the kilt, with just a bend of his handlebars in sight.

I was a schoolboy cyclist who also wore the kilt, and in the late 1950s, he and I would pass in Abbotsford Place, he on his way to Bellahouston Academy, and me to Hutchesons’ Boys’ Grammar School in Crown Street.

As a newspaperman in 1970, I interviewed him at his home, and had difficulty shorthanding down our topic, such were his rapid-fire witticisms. I mentioned a then-current Glasgow personage.

“He’s been dead for years,” quoth Oliver. “No, Mr Brown, he’s in office right now”.

“Aye, but he’s still dead”.

Oliver it was who created the lovely remark: “A shudder ran round Scottish MPs at Westminster, looking for a spine to run up”.

Are folk like Oliver Brown made any more?

Gordon Casely, Crathes.

Cheers, Prime Minister

ONLY once during his important Commons statement today (June 23) was the Prime Minister interrupted by a Member crying “Hallelujah!” This was when he announced the imminent re-opening of pubs. Comment would be superfluous.

Kenneth Fraser, St Andrews.